As part of efforts aimed at providing affordable smart meters for Lagosians to enjoy improved electricity supply and for electricity distribution companies (Discos) to service their customers profitably, Venture Garden Group has collaborated with the Lagos State government to host the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020. The three-day event, which culminated in a prize presentation ceremony on Friday, 18 September 2020, featured presentations by several startups from across Nigeria competing for mouthwatering cash prizes in the hardware and software categories of the hackathon.

Speaking at the grand finale, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos State Governor, commended the participants for helping to provide homegrown solutions to Nigeria’s epileptic power supply issues and challenged the runners-up from the competition not to rest on their oars.

“To all of you that will not emerge winners in this competition please don’t give up. Each time you fall is an opportunity for you to reactivate yourself and get up again. You are actually on the right track. It will take a while to get there but you will certainly get there,” charged Sanwo-Olu. 

According to official statistics, over 60% of Lagosians and Nigerians are estimated to be unmetered due to the unavailability and the high cost of electricity meters. This therefore informed the decision of the Lagos State Government to leverage bright tech talents to design and produce affordable smart electricity meters.

Taking the audience through the journey of the hackathon, Olalere Odusote, Lagos State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, said the competition received entries from 274 groups across Nigeria with a total of 65 groups submitting prototypes. The number of entries was eventually whittled down to 10 with five groups each in software and hardware categories. Given the amazing solutions presented by the contestants, the total prize money was increased by N5million in the course of the three-day event to N12million.

Commenting on the competition, Bunmi Akinyemiju, Chief Executive Officer, Venture Garden Group, who was also a member of the panel of judges at the hackathon, lauded the finalists and organisers for an exciting competition.

 “Venture Garden Group is delighted to partner with Lagos State Government to host the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020. Over the course of the last three days, we have seen various solutions from budding talent in the technology sector in a bid to provide workable solutions to our power supply challenges. As one of the judges, I saw first-hand the depth of ingenuity on display by the contestants and I am convinced that with some support and mentoring, these young innovators will produce solutions not only for Lagos State and Nigeria but for Africa and beyond. I commend the Lagos State Government for this initiative and the participants for their efforts in providing homegrown solutions to our power challenges,” said Akinyemiju.

He further explained that the sponsorship of the hackathon falls in line with a major plank of the organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) thrust termed “African Tech-Ecosystem Alignment” where they promote collaboration amongst tech industry players for the benefit of the African continent. He also intimated journalists that the sponsorship will go a long way in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 targeted at achieving universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030.

Held at the Eko Innovation Center, Ikoyi and Access Bank Plc head office, Oniru, the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020 brought together key stakeholders in the Nigerian power sector including discos, software providers, regulators, meter asset providers, bankers, amongst a host of other ecosystem players.

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